Those feelings deepened in January 1985, when work began on he new album—which, Vince and Pete discovered, had largely been completed by the time they arrived in Munich, Germany.
The five-piece band only played on two B-sides (“Do It Now,” “Sex Mad Roar”), leading Vince to comment: “It wasn't really a Clash record, although it had the label, and it's got my picture on the back.”
There would be one more reprieve in the so-called “busking tour” (May 2-17, 1985) of free impromptu acoustic shows in northern Britain (Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, York), and Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow).
Any public place was fair game, from parks, to pubs, shopping centers—even patrons outside the Alarm's own May 7 show, at Leeds University. For Vince, the trip made a welcome contrast to the fragmented, piecemeal recording madness that held sway in Munich.
“I can't think of any superstar bands going out, and doing that. It put us in touch with reality, with where we were,” Vince says. “It was just five of us on the road, and that really put Joe in his element. So it affected us all in a good way.”
On returning to London, “it was just back to the old story, again,” Vince says, “so whatever we'd achieved, it quickly evaporated.”
Following some conventional festival appearances in Denmark (June 29), France (July 13), and Greece (August 27), Strummer made one final, unsuccessful pitch to Jones about regrouping the old lineup.
During the fall of 1985, Strummer called a sitdown at his home, telling the new boys he'd had enough; there wouldn't be a Clash for anyone to kick around anymore.
In later years—depending on his mood, or the interviewer—Joe chalked up the events to an overly-involved Rhodes, or lack of chemistry, compared to the old group.
The latter statements rang false to Vince, “because no chemistry was allowed to develop,” he maintains, “and the reality is that he'd given all the control of the band over to Bernie.”
No prizes, then, for guessing this particular story's moral ...
“Well, I think that good things happen in freedom. When there's an atmosphere of freedom, then things tend to value the creative [process],” Vince says.
Vince continued playing after the Clash's demise, although his current priorities are promoting Out Of Control, developing his art (“there's something about someone at 47 holding a Les Paul, trying to be 18. It aint too cute. Know what I mean?), and writing more books, too.
And what about those fans who'll never accept Vince as a fully-fledged rocker from Clash City?
“There are hundreds of Clash books out there, blue pills that tell people exactly what they wanna hear—and that's fine,” Vince retorts. "They can be easily found in the religious new age section under 'Church of Joe'. If people think that I'm bitter, or whatever conclusions they wanna make of it, that's their business. The average music fan is so soft, brainwashed and downright pathetic these days anyway that it really makes no difference to me. I don't care. I'd rather they didn't buy my book. They don't deserve it. I'd rather they just bought something to make them happy. You know, like a nice, romantic comedy with a sunset ending!"
Ralph Heibutzki (Chairman Ralph) has chronicled the Clash—in one way, or another—since seeing them at the MSU Auditorium (East Lansing, MI) on May 10, 1984.
For another snapshot of his projected book on The Only Band That Matters, please check out “Recording Cut The Crap,” at blackmarketclash.com. (Go to the 1984 tour dates, then click the “Out Of Control Italy” or “Striking Miners' Benefit Gigs” sections.)
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